Thursday Doors Challenge: Downtown Palo Alto

Posting this for the Thursday Doors Challenge hosted by No Facilities. It’s a lot of fun to participate.

A few days ago, self went strolling around downtown Palo Alto. This used to be one of her favorite places to while away the time. There were two downtown movie theaters: one on Emerson, another on University Avenue. There was a gelato place, and even a smoke shop. But, sadly, the movie theaters, even the gelato place, were closed.

Stanford Theatre has been closed since March 2020. It’s supposedly owned by a Silicon Valley billionaire who loves old movies. They used to have periodic film festivals: Hitchcock films, Satyajit Ray films, Truffaut films. The price of entry: $7. Fresh popcorn: $1.

It was very disheartening to see, a few days ago, that it was STILL closed. She had to content herself with walking around the ticket area, taking a picture of the old movie posters on display.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Visualizing Anna Karenina

Self saw the Joe Wright movie and felt it was ludicrous, especially the scene with the dueling tongues. None of which is Keira Knightley’s fault.

Here’s a photo of actress Vivien Leigh, who more closely resembles the image of Anna that self has in her mind:


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Watching “10 Cloverfield Lane” in Fort Bragg

Self and five tweenies. Who were very restless and kept kicking the row of seats she was in. They’d stop whenever self turned her head. But they’d start again. Anyhoo.

GRRREAT movie.

The lead has an uncanny resemblance to the Sigourney Weaver of Alien. So uncanny is the resemblance that self thinks it must have been part of the reason why she was picked. So many little homages to that earlier (CLASSIC, GREAT) movie: especially, the heroine’s looks. The fact that her best scenes occur when she is barefoot and wearing a skimpy tank and very tight blue jeans. There’s a real American heroine for you. Gal can do anything, and she looks great in skinny jeans.

Who was that girl? She looked so like Dakota Johnson. And there were notes of Jena Malone in there as well.

Her male co-stars were playing against type: John Goodman (How that man can make dancing look creepy, self knows not. But he pulled it off) and the other one who looked like a shrimpy Ben Affleck (with a LOT of facial hair). She loved that the other man looked about half the size of Goodman. And was only up to the heroine’s shoulder. Clearly, not the type to inspire confidence.

Great, great movie to watch in Fort Bragg on a Sunday afternoon.

Stay tuned.

Professional Critic: “Interstellar” Movie

The best “Interstellar” review self has read so far is by Noel Vera, on his Critic After Dark” blog.  Here’s the opening paragraph:

Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” starts out very Grapes of Wrath and ends up a little Book of Genesis. Along the way you see the influence of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (of course); design bits from “Alien” and “Star Wars”; story details from (though I don’t see Nolan ever confirming this) “Marooned”, Brian de Palma’s “Mission to Mars” and (guessing he’d rather die than admit it) “Field of Dreams”; imagery from “The Right Stuff” and (this Nolan does admit — it’s a much tonier source) Tarkovsky’s “The Mirror.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Checking the New Movies, May 2014

This morning, self went to Cinemablend and the Roger Ebert site, looking for reviews of movies recently opened in the U.S. Because she’ll be home in a few weeks, and gardening and watching movies are possibly her two favorite activities in California. She likes watching TV, too — especially when Game of Thrones or Saturday Night Live are on. Anyhoo, back to movies.

She sees that a bunch of new horror movies have opened, and that Spidey 2 didn’t get such good reviews (Andrew Garfield, don’t sell your soul down the river. On the basis of Boy A and The Social Network, you’re capable of so much more)

By a circomlocutious route, she arrives at The Guardian’s film blog, and finds that six “key British movies” are being honored with commemmorative stamps.

The six are:

  • A Matter of Life and Death
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Chariots of Fire
  • Secrets and Lies
  • Bend It Like Beckham

Self really liked Alfie, with Michael Caine.  She thinks Chariots of Fire was a safe choice, though she found the movie rather dripp-y.  She also liked My Beautiful Laundrette and My Left Foot.

Bend It Like Beckham?  Really?  Enjoyable movie, but.  Really?

She’d definitely list a movie like Maurice (early Hugh Grant) ahead of Bend It Like Beckham.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Iconic Shades: A VANITY FAIR Post (February 2014 Issue)

Self probably hasn’t mentioned Vanity Fair in almost a year.  Strange how this year has gone.

She’s still on the same Jhumpa Lahiri short story, the one she began two weeks ago.  Ordinarily, she’d tear through this collection (Unaccustomed Earth) in a week or two.

Anyhoo, let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth.  Here she is this evening, perusing the February 2014 issue.

On p. 46, the Fanfair section, there’s a piece on sunglasses inspired by classic Hollywood looks.

You could go “Dark Thriller,” like Audrey Hepburn in Charade (1963).

You could go “Lolita Luxe,” like Sue Lyon in Lolita (1962).

You could go “Killer Glam,” like Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface (1983).

Or you could do “Riviera Chic,” like Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief (1955).

You could also go “Anonymous Cool,” like Cary Grant in North by Northwest (1959).

You could do “Going Gonzo,” like Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998).

Or you could go “Dapper Affair” like Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair.

Or you could go “Need for Speed” like Tom Cruise in Top Gun (1986).

These are the makers of the aforementioned sunglasses:  Dries Van Noten, Alexander McQueen, Linda Farrow, Balenciaga, Prism Portofino, Persol, Isabel Marant (for Oliver Peoples), Tom Ford, Warby Parker, and Saint Laurent.

The sunglasses start at $95 (Warby Parker) and go as high as $620 (the Linda Farrow cat-eye).

Three of the eight movies listed above star Cary Grant.  What does that tell you? He was the coolest, absolutely the coolest.  Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp don’t even come close.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.



Reading Variety’s IN MEMORIAM, 2013

Ray Dolby, founder of Dolby Laboratories, died in San Francisco in September.  He was 80.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, screenwriter and novelist, who collaborated with filmmakers James Ivory and Ismail Merchant on A Room With a View and Howard’s End, died in April.  She was 85.

Van Cliburn, Imelda Marcos’s frequent guest in Manila, died in February.  He was 78.

Actress Karen Black died in August.  She was in Five Easy Pieces and Nashville.  She was 74.

Actress Eileen Brennan died in July.  She was 80.

David Frost (most famous for interviewing Nixon), died in August. Age not stated.

Ray Harryhausen, who pioneered special effects for such movies as Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, died in May.  He was 92.

Esther Williams, a statue of whom is still in Santa Fe Resort in Bacolod, and who starred in MGM “aquatic spectaculars” like Bathing Beauty and Million-Dollar Mermaid, died in June.  She was 91.

Elmore Leonard, bestselling author of Get Shorty, Jackie Brown and Out of Sight, whose most recent collaboration was on the F/X series Justified, died in August.  He was 87.

Dennis Farina, former Chicago cop who became famous for playing cops, most recently in Law & Order, died in July.  He was 69.

Jean Stapleton, whose iconic role was as Edith Bunker in All in the Family, died in May.  She was 90.

Annette Funicello, former Mouseketeer, died in April.  Self knows not why her name sticks in self’s mind.  She was 70.

Roger Ebert, film critic, died in April.  He was 70.

Peter O’Toole, one of self’s favorite actors, a true genius, died earlier this month.  He was 81.

Corey Monteith, of Glee, died in July.  He was 31.

James Gandolfini died in June.  He was 51.

Lou Reed, singer-songwriter, died in October.  He was 71.

Paul Walker died in November.  He was 40.

More Thoughts on “Gravity” / Watching “Witness”

Last night, Peter Weir’s “Witness” was showing on cable.  Self had just read a post on “Great Female Performances” written by Sheila O’Malley, whose blog, The Sheila Variations, self reads whenever she has the time (or, often, even when she doesn’t have the time, ha ha haaa!)  One of her “20 Surprising Female Performances” was Kelly McGillis in “Witness.”  And, wouldn’t you know, in a strange convergence of blog reading and strange-events-that-happen-in-real-life, The Man all on his own last night, without self’s having breathed a WORD about Kelly McGillis, found “Witness” on cable.

We ended up watching the whole thing, from beginning to end.

First of all, how great was the cinematography?

And had anyone before even thought to set a thriller in Amish country?

And how great was Peter Weir’s work with, not only Kelly McGillis, but also Harrison Ford, Danny Glover, and Lukas Haas?

Bonus points:  a very, very young Viggo Mortensen playing an Amish lad; Alexander Godunov in a really deft performance as an Amish suitor; Harrison Ford at the height of his hot-ness; and sequences about the right way to raise a barn in one day.

Give Director Peter Weir his Lifetime Achievement Oscar already!  Self would like to think “Witness” was rewarded with Oscars.  But even if it wasn’t, “Witness” will always be on self’s short list of really great movies.

As for Kelly McGillis, self agrees with Sheila O’Malley:  The actress’s performance, even though she is mostly fully clothed, with hair bundled up under a white cap, is exquisitely erotic.  In fact, it’s far more erotic than any of the recent skin-baring “bold and racy” Hollywood movies could ever be.

*     *     *     *

And now to “Gravity.”  Self landed on some site with a discussion thread called “I Didn’t Like Gravity.”  The criticism ranged around the dialogue, claiming it was hoky and sentimental, and George Clooney was just acting himself, and how come Sandra Bullock’s character had to be metaphorically “rescued” by re-appearance of George Clooney?

Self then began to doubt her fondness for the movie.  But she decided that no, she still considers it a great feminist movie, and a very moving one at that.


For one thing, there is a point in the film where Bullock’s Dr. Ryan approaches a turn.  Maybe it’s right after she reveals that her four-year-old daughter was killed in a meaningless playground incident (Hit her head, died), or maybe it’s before that.

Whatever.  The point is: she does turn.  And what self thinks is really moving is: Even though Bullock’s character is a lonely, isolated soul, with no family or children to keep living for, at some point she decides that just HER OWN LIFE is worth fighting for.  And she WILL fight.  Even if it means going out again in space and donning that awful space suit!  Even though she’s seen what can happen “out there.”  But if it’s the only chance she has to survive, my golly she will do it!

And self particularly liked the editing here, because the change wasn’t shown by Dr. Ryan suddenly having a different expression on her face, or anything so obvious as that.  No.  We only realized that Dr. Ryan had decided to FIGHT FOR HER LIFE when she re-appeared, outside the shuttle in that bulky, awful, ungainly space suit.  And we didn’t even realize what we were realizing, not until much, much later.

More thoughts are tumbling out of self’s head about “Gravity” and Bullock’s character, but you know, self also happens to teach and she thinks this is enough of a break for the day.

Stay tuned.

More Reading: Last Friday of June 2013

The New York Review of Books, Issue xxx:  Who knows?  A long, long time ago.  Oh, all right:  the Nov. 8, 2012 issue.  (Self’s Pile of Stuff is a monster.  And has grown leaps and bounds since April when, added to the general disorganization of self’s life was a trip to Venice, a trip to southern California, son’s moving in for the summer, and the incredible HEAT, today)

Self will post excerpts from Robert Gottlieb’s essay on James Jones (What a name!  There are so many American “James”!)

Since 90.9 % of dear blog readers will probably have no idea who James Jones is (No, it is not the actor famous for playing Othello:  That is James Earl Jones.  Furthermore, James Jone is not African American), some context:

James Jones was born in 1949.

He was the author of From Here to Eternity, a book about quote the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor unquote.

Jones sent the manuscript to his publisher (Scribner’s) with a note:  “I, personally, believe it will stack up with Stendhal’s Waterloo or Tolstoy’s Austerlitz.”

The book was made into a movie starring Burt Lancaster.  In one crucial scene, Lancaster (playing a character named Seargent Milt Warden) tells his men:

“The CQ will unlock the rifle racks and every man get his rifle and hang on to it.  But stay inside at your bunks.  This ain’t no maneuvers.  Yo go runnin around outside you’ll get your ass shot off . . .  Stay off the porches.  Stay inside.  I’m making each squad leader responsible to keep his men inside.  If you have to use a rifle butt to do it, that’s okay too. ”

“What if the fuckers bomb us?” somebody hollered.

“If you hear a bomb coming, you’re free to take off for the brush . . .  But not unless you do.  I don’t think they will.  If they were going to bomb us, they would of started with it already.  They probably concentratin all their bombs on the Air Corps and Pearl Harbor.

“Yeah,” somebody hollered.  “But what if they ain’t?”

“Then you’re shit out of luck.”

Robert Gottlieb writes of James Jones:

Always you feel that he knows what he’s talking about, whether it’s the savagery of the stockade, life in a rough whorehouse, the anguish of love, or the most mundane minutiae like a “can of milk with its top sliced open by a cleaver butt.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

RIP, Lily Pulitzer, 1921 – 1913

Quotes are from Associated Press by way of yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle.

Although self has never owned a Lily Pulitzer dress, she knows exactly what they are.  Lilly Pulitzer was the Tory Burch of her day, a woman “who married into the famous newspaper family” and “got her start in fashion by spilling orange juice on her clothes.  A rich housewife with time to spare and a husband who owned orange groves, she opened a juice stand in 1959, and asked her seamstress to make dresses in colorful prints that would camouflage fruit stains.  The dresses hung on a pipe behind her juice stand and soon outsold her drinks.”


  • “The signature Lilly palette features tongue-in-cheek jungle and floral prints in blues, pinks, light greens, yellow and orange —  the colors of a Florida vacation.”
  • In “a 2009 interview,” Ms. Pulitzer was quoted as saying:  “I designed collections around whatever struck my fancy . . .  fruits, vegetables, politics or peacocks.  I entered in with no business sense.  It was a total change of life for me, but it made people happy.”

One unforeseen result of having watched “To Catch a Thief” and “Vertigo” is that suddenly self is very, very interested in what women wore in bygone decades.  She would love, for instance, to get her hands on the grey suit worn by Kim Novak in “Vertigo.”  And she has studied Eva Marie-Saint’s wardrobe in “North by Northwest” and finds it truly iconic.

And now, back to her reading of Don Quijote (almost to page 500!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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